Paper Arrows hit target

By Sophia Coleman

Chicago indie rock band Paper Arrows has been on a rapid course to widespread fame since its members first met in winter 2007. With three full length albums out—Joe Goodkin, guitar and lead vocalist; Jay Moreno, bass and background vocals; Darien Garvey, drummer and producer; and recent addition, Drew Scalercio, on keyboard—the band has worked on developing a cohesive, marketable sound.

The band’s authentic use of background noise, such as the traffic of highway I-90 or the whistle of a train, along with raucous guitars and powerful melodies evoke feelings of loss, recovery and redemption.

The Chronicle caught up with Goodkin to talk about his personal project, involving Homer’s “The Odyssey,” the band’s residency at Schubas Tavern, 3159 N. Southport Ave., and a situation in which Radiohead allegedly stole one of their marketing strategies.

The Chronicle: What’s with the rumor that Radiohead stole an idea from Paper Arrows?

Joe Goodkin: What happened was [the band] finished the first album that was recorded in the attic. We didn’t have a project behind it—it was done really fast, and we didn’t have a name for it. Everyone I gave it to said it was great, and I needed to come out with an idea to turn more people on to it. What I did was email people a free MP3 as long as they forwarded it to five other friends. It ended up quadrupling the matter that I started within one week. It turns out this was before Radiohead did their free give away of “In Rainbows.” Now, it’s weird to think that no one was doing that sort of promotion back then. Unfortunately, I can’t confirm that they stole that idea from us.

The Chronicle: When did you gain residency at Schubas Tavern? How was that?

JG: We did our first two record releases at Schubas in ’08 and ’09. We developed really great shows with good marketing, as well. We were involved with “Practice Space,” where they would invite one band to play every Monday for the entire month. It was a sort of low-risk day to take some chances and come up with creative ways to individualize each show. I pitched them this idea of doing porch, one-hour solo acoustic shows with this project based on Homer’s “The Odyssey.”

The Chronicle: Explain your Homer’s “The Odyssey” project?

JG: I got a degree in classics in Ancient Greek. Many years ago, I got the idea to try to write a musical piece based on Homer’s “The Odyssey” to emulate the original way it was presented in ancient Greece. I’ve been going to high school classes and colleges where I perform and talk about it. I haven’t performed it in a bar yet—it’s fairly intellectual and you really have to pay attention to it.

The Chronicle: How does your recent album, “In the Morning,” compare to your debut, “Look Alive”? How do you believe you have grown as a band?

JG: Technically, we recorded the album in the attic—if you listen really closely, you can hear the highway in the background. We had no idea what it was going to become, and there was a certain freedom in that. Now, we’re recording in a fantastic studio—I.V. Labs in Wrigleyville. We’ve grown from a writing standpoint, professional standpoint and production standpoint, but at its core, it’s really funny because we still have a disregard for rules. We’re in a different place creatively, but we’ve maintained the integrity of our first album.

The Chronicle: Paper Arrows was featured on MTV. What show were you on and how was it?

JG: In early 2010, we had a song used on “Real World D.C.”—that was cool, they put our name up on the screen—but it’s obviously not Shakespeare. But it was fantastic exposure. In October [2011], MTV used a song from “In the Morning” on “Real World Las Vegas.” Our stuff has already found its way to some other shows through that. It gives us the leg up on other bands. It’s hard to make money by selling records [and] it’s hard to make money touring, so you have to pull every possible way you can to get exposure.

For more information on Paper Arrows and their tour dates, visit